Riverside California District Attorney Rod Pacheco says he will seek the death penalty for Raymond Lee Oyler, Joplin, who is accused of setting the wildfires that killed five firemen in October:
Pacheco said he decided to pursue death against Raymond Lee Oyler after meeting with relatives of the U.S. Forest Service firefighters and with law-enforcement investigators. Factors including Oyler's past criminal record also influenced his decision.
"I considered what I personally considered to be an incredible and callous disregard to the safety of the firefighters who would respond to the fires over a period of time," Pacheco said. "He expressed on numerous occasions that he wanted to burn the mountain down."
Oyler's attorney, Mark McDonald. said Wednesday that his defense has always been prepared for the likelihood the Riverside County district attorney would seek the death penalty.
"That fact became evident on Nov. 2 when Mr. Pacheco held a news conference at which the county's top law-enforcement officials and members of the Board of Supervisors ferociously attacked Mr. Oyler and vowed revenge for the victims' families," he said. "Ray Oyler's defense case is developing with a lot of promise, so
much so that neither he nor I believe his case will ever reach the point where a jury will have to decide a penalty."